Friday, June 29, 2012


This use to be my next door neighbor's house. It was built in the twenties with lots of charm, beautiful windows and a tile roof on a corner lot. It had been in the family from the very beginning until they decided to sell it to a developer who is basically dismantling it (slowly hand-bulldozing it) and reconstructing a new home with a second story and a large upscale master bedroom. They have installed a chain link fence around the property with a plastic covering so no one can see how they are destroying history. (I was able to sneak in and take some photos). Am I sentimental? Yes. But I know who lived in that home, the pattern of their lives, the way they parked their cars everyday of the year, the decorations that displayed every Halloween and Christmas. I have felt such sadness over the whole process. And what is the purpose of this demolition? There is no amount of enlightening that will ease my remorse. This was the upstairs bedroom, the one that will be transformed into a "master suite". Call me old fashioned, but I am a preservationist when it comes to history and architecture and roots. And so here I am in my shop taking a new piece trying to make it look authentically "old", and the whole time I am waxing and distressing I am mulling over the fact that what I am creating is being destroyed right next to my home. I am creating old, and they are dismantling it. Is it a personal preference or is it simply greed and profit on their part? In a neighborhood with character, style, and architectural dictates, why would someone want to come in and build a home that only insults the grace of its surroundings? Looking down and through is my idea of vision. We need to see something that speaks to us. When I paint a piece of furniture, it sometimes takes me awhile to really see a piece. I might paint it one color and then go back later and do another color. Yet, I think ultimately the design and the shape and the various ideas will suddenly come forth, and you will know, without explanation, why you choose to do what seems authentic and fitting, and it becomes an integrated decision. A piece is born through your dreams, remembrances, and your unique design vision. It is really not complicated if you trust your instincts. Repair what needs to be fixed. (I love this part.) Choose the color that speaks to you (and you must trust that it will and does). Then choose the color and vision that gives you that sense of certainty. Florence is one that is beginning to haunt my dreams.....I trust it will find its place.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Evolving Styles

When I joined the Annie Sloan group of stockists over a year ago I did not realize it would have such an impact on my lifestyle as well as my eye. I am a very visual person. I remember color better than I remember names. But I was not prepared for a complete evolution of my style. When I started working with Annie Sloan's palette I started to see colors in a different way. And it became highly personal. What I discovered was that my way of seeing color was unique to my past, my experience, and my thoughts about the fluidity of design. First and foremost, we are always evolving and seeking new ways of defining ourselves. If we are open to this, it can be very illuminating and energizing. We are bombarded everyday with images. I find this unnerving. As humans, with highly evolved senses, I think we instinctively know what we want to select. I think it is one of the beauties of our species. We know, but we have been programmed to distrust this instinct. Page after page of media tells us what color we should like or embrace. Is it popular? Is it trendy? Is it current? I think we should trust what we feel, know, and love. For me, in this stage of my life, I am looking for simplicity, comfort, and peace. But I am also reaching out for a little spark and ingenuity so I don't stagnate. So let your style evolve. Trust the ideas that you have. Choose the color that might seem bold or unusual, but do it with your heart. Let the other dictates go and trust the evolution of your artistic spirit. Embrace the idea, the color, the mood. My guess is that you just might find the space and the inspiration you had visualized from the moment it came to you....almost as a gift.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Painting Projects

I know that everyone has the same dilemma that I do. We all collect furniture for our future painting projects. My house is becoming filled because (a) I do not have a storage unit and (b) my garage has no more space for anything save gardening tools and other family collections and (c) I seem to find more space in my house these days for extra furniture. My three grown children are beginning to groan over the possibilities of my obsession and where this may lead for the long term. My objective in merely a timely list of future accomplishments. They fear I might be a "hoarder". Here is a piece soon to be painted in one of the more soft and neutral colors, maybe Country Grey or Old Ochre or maybe a combination of these with Old White. I am trying to match the beautiful old transferware tiles. I love this piece. When I was in my twenties and living in New England as a young wife and mother, nearly every weekend was spent antiquing in the rural towns of Massachusetts. Almost everything we purchased we refinished, stripped, sanded, stained and varnished. I nearly gasp when I think of the beautiful 1890 chest painted with original buttermilk paint that we stripped and refinished. What were we thinking? The funny thing about this is that when I would go to the decorative arts rooms of a museum, I was always drawn to the painted furniture. I would stand there and try to memorize every detail of the colors, design, and historical significance of it. So when I saw this wardrobe, it was love at first sight. I will not touch it or change anything about it. This piece most likely came from France, but it could have been from England too. I love the colors, hand painting, and the patina. I love painted furniture. Period. And I keep asking myself why most men don't like a piece of furniture painted when, in fact, the history of painted furniture is vast, rich, and fascinating. A few weeks ago I had the luxury of spending a few hours at an antique mall in Camas where Amanda of One Girl in Pink has a space and sells some of her beautiful painted furniture. I had fallen in love with one of her two-tiered blue tables and went back to see it. I walked around and returned to her space. This lovely, graceful little table is now in my shop. Every day I look at this piece, the details, the colors, the gentle way it stands on the floor. It is as if I have given this table a special persona. But I find the beauty of this piece so comforting and engaging. I keep staring at the details, the varying colors of paint, the way that it has become transformed by someone's eye and hand, and this someone, Amanda, has a very special way of deciding how an ordinary piece of furniture can become the piece that defines and delights a room or a shop. I am so inspired by this. I want to paint endlessly. I have a feeling the ideas and projects might never end, and I think this just may be the perfect way to master and find satisfaction in the hours of each day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bragging Rights

It is rare that I devote a post to my personal life, but the last week I have been so absorbed and focused with the birth of a new grandson. Jeanette gave birth to Cade Maurice Fischer around 1:20 PM on Tuesday, the 12th. This is her first picture holding Cade just a few minutes after he was born. This is one of the first family photos. Lincoln gets introduced to his new baby brother, Cade. There is nothing like holding your newborn grandchild, holding your cheek against theirs and staring at their tiny little features, hands, and fingers. I am always amazed at the miraculous creation of a child. I know the next time I see him, most likely in the fall, he will be totally different and blossoming into his own unique personality. It is always so hard to leave.... I will be back in my shop, The Purple Pear on Wednesday morning. I will not be open on Tuesday as I usually am, and I apologize for this. I would love to bring you anything you need if you came by the store, and I missed you. I will also be getting the new Chalk Paint™ decorative paint color, Florence, in the shop very soon. It is an exquisite, exotic color. I already have a project in mind. Looking forward to getting back and organizing my workshops and getting them going again. I also have a new website that is almost ready to be launched. See you soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about balance and how important this is for us at every stage in our lives. I think we all tend to get on this treadmill of lists and projects and obligations. One day, about two weeks ago, I decided to not make a list in order to see if my life and work could somehow get along without it. I lasted two days. I felt things were out of control. Was I forgetting something important? Did I forget to ship an order or answer an email? Did I promise something and did not follow through? All these worries were pulling at me and wanting answers. I went back to The List. As I was scrolling through my photos, I suddenly realized I had actually taken a photo of The List. I feel I should be disturbed by this, but in a way, I find it quite liberating that I actually documented something most people would consider silly. And yet, this is how we run our lives on a daily basis. Maybe I was documenting something that might be an artifact for my grandchildren one day. "Wow,can you believe our grandmother actually wrote a handwritten list?" This could be a collectible like the old ledgers are now. On Sunday I had the most amazing experience, an invitation to view an indescribably beautiful private garden. Suddenly I was transported to a portion of my heart that had been neglected, a love of digging in the dirt, dead-heading roses, cleaning the beds, and most of all, just being in that very special, restorative place. This special journey brought me back to myself and how important balance is in our lives full of expectations and passions. We need to learn how to bring all of these interests and passions into our lives without losing sight of why we are here and why this matters and what we are doing to sustain this. My youngest daughter is to have a baby boy in the next few days. This will be my last grandchild. I am full of anticipation as well as poignant hesitation. This is a crossroad in life. The clock will be set in motion by the needs of a new birth, a new life, and renewed hope. Balance? Somehow when a new child is born the list is put aside and considered absolutely unnecessary as well as essential. This is a very good time to take note of rhythm and floating time.